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Schumi ‘battling pneumonia’

Berlin: Michael Schumacher is reportedly battling pneumonia even as doctors try to bring him out of the artificial coma.

According to a leading German daily, its effects on the fragile state of health of the 45-year-old were unknown. Schumacher’s spokesperson, Sabine Kehm, refused to comment on the report, saying only it was “speculation, and I do not comment on speculation”.

It has been reported that Schumacher developed the lung infection last week at the University Hospital in Grenoble and he is being treated with strong antibiotics. He has been in a coma since his December 29 ski accident, when he badly injured his head, causing serious swelling of the brain.

Earlier, the doctors treating him said they were trying to coax him out of the coma by reducing his sedation. Kehm added the process could take some time.

With little information being given to media, the hospital has been left to fend off rumours. Last Thursday, it had to deny speculation flaring on social networks that Schumacher had died.

It has been reported that Schumacher’s wife Corinna spends hours talking to her husband at his bedside to try to help him round from his coma. She has spoken to the seven-time F1 champion — who is being kept under anaesthetic at the University Hospital in France — every day without any response.

Pneumonia is among the greatest life threatening conditions that can afflict people in Schumacher’s position. The lack of a competent swallowing mechanism can make saliva run into the lungs and trigger the potentially lethal respiratory infection.

Andreas Pingel, medical director of the Centre for Spine Surgery and Neuro-Traumatology at the BG Hospital in Frankfurt told a German magazine last week, “About 30 to 50 per cent of all patients who lie in a coma as long as Michael Schumacher has get it.”

The report added that it was not known if the ‘recovery phase’ — the slow decrease in anaesthetic that has kept Schumacher comatose in a bid to bring him around — has been interrupted as a result of the infection.